The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS) in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida's Water Management Districts, and grower groups have written a draft Best Management Practices (BMP) manual for vegetables and agronomic crops in Florida.

This is the first such initiative for these diverse industries.

This BMP initiative is extremely important in that it will provide vegetable and agronomic crop growers statewide with not only a “baseline” set of good production standards and practices, but also an opportunity to receive a presumption of compliance with state water quality standards in accordance with existing state statutes dealing with the Clean Water Act's Total Maximum Daily Load Program.

Furthermore, a comprehensive BMP manual for this industry will assist the FDACS with implementation of future BMP cost-share programs.

The approach for developing this manual was to organize specific groups of BMPs for major areas of importance for agronomic and vegetable crop producers, for example water resources, nutrient and water management, conservation practices, etc. BMP literature resources included UF-IFAS Extension recommendations and language from USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service technical information, and other reference documents.

The BMP manual is easy to read with all information sources referenced at the end of each BMP. Also, existing recommendation details are provided by various Internet links to the actual sources of information.

If you would like to provide review comments concerning this manual, please go to the Web site, www.floridaagwaterpolicy.com and click on the Best Management Practice link to download this draft document. If you have questions about the development of this manual, contact the FDACS, Office of Agricultural Water Policy at 850-488-6249.